Don’t be a hater

On Monday, I was interviewing people that were applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. My first client was there when I arrived, 30 minutes early. He stunk to high heaven as I asked him to wait while I set things up for our appointment. When I was ready, I asked him in and shut the door behind him. Boy, I wish I hadn’t. The stench was almost unbearable.
To make a long story short, I found out this man had been homeless the past 9 years. My first thought was, “Oh, this guy… he’s the guy that hangs out at intersections, holding out his hat for spare change to buy booze with it.” I always reject eye contact and change lanes to get as far away as possible when I see these people.
When I asked him what he did when he was last employed, he told me he was a carpenter, and hurt his back. The doctor told him he had ruptured a disc in his spine and was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc disease. He could no longer be a carpenter. Around the same time he was diagnosed with severe Bipolar disorder and was hospitalized for about a month. While he was there he somehow lost his Driver’s License and Birth Certificate (he blames the hospital).
So of course, this means he could not get a job! Things went from bad to worse, as he could no longer afford his medications, which would bring him back to hospitals every few months. His parents were dead and he had no other family.
So he started living on the streets. Begging for money in the intersections. For nine years! He used to hold up signs that said “will work for food,” but he told me he never could do the labor they asked of him. So now he holds up a sign that says “any help is appreciated.”
He told me he hitchhiked his way to California and got a new birth certificate last week and is trying to get back on his feet. All he needs is an ID, and a little start up money from the government so he can buy a nice work outfit and apply for some jobs.
His story really touched me. Here is a hard-working man who refuses to give up. This guy isn’t wallowing in his own grief. He is making strong efforts to be a contributing member to society. Hitchhiking to California? Wow!
Boy, I felt like an idiot. Here I am, judging another person. And before he even spoke to me.
I hope that he gets on his feet soon, because he deserves it. And if he doesn’t, I hope I see him at my intersection.
Don’t be a hater. Love as Jesus loves.

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